Our Beautiful Brains
Many couples arrive in neurodiverse couples therapy with one or both of the following stories:
Neurotypical: "My partner doesn't care" or "He just can't give me what I need."
Autistic: "I'm a failure." or "My partner is overly emotional."
We are here to tell you that you are both mistaken.
If you don't understand the problem you are trying to solve, it is virtually impossible to solve it.
First, the root problem is that your brains are wired differently.
Second, you are reaching conclusions based on your experiences of your partner's behaviors, not is what is happening inside.
Third, once you begin to understand what and why a behavior is happening, you can begin to find a way to make your relationship work.
Without his clear problem definition, you are more likely to:
assume bad intent on your partner,
blame yourself, and
stay stuck without change indefinitely.
These assumptions keep you locked in a state of conflict, isolation and misunderstanding.
TRENDS IN BRAIN RESEARCH
Ok, so how do the autistic and allistic brains function differently?
Studies that make use of a brain-scanning technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have highlighted brain regions that are structurally distinct in people with autism. However, research has not uncovered a ‘characteristic’ brain structure for autism, meaning that no single pattern of changes appears in every autistic person. This reflects the wide variety across individuals in general. Nonetheless, there are some consistent differences that have emerged for subsets of autistic people. Some of these differences are summarized on the information table on this page. Unfortunately, making direct connections between brain structures and the differences in thinking styles, body awareness, use of emotional language, focused interests, literal language interpretation, pattern perception, and theory of mind is imprecise.
THE MAIN POINT
We encourage you (both allistic and autistic) to be open to seeing your partner's behavior with a new level of acceptance, knowing that their behaviors are not a reflection of bad intent, lack of will, or an inability to care. With this in mind, building bridges in a relationship become immensely easier.
FOR THE RESEARCH MINDED
For those who want to dig in to the details, here are links to some relevant research and a table summarizing some of the key brain differences.
Brain structure changes in autism, explained - Spectrum. https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/brain-structure-changes-in-autism-explained/
Autistic traits and individual brain differences: functional network .... https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-020-00377-8
Analysis of Brain Scans Reveals Differences in Brains of Boys and Girls .... https://www.bbrfoundation.org/content/analysis-brain-scans-reveals-differences-brains-boys-and-girls-autism-spectrum-disorder
Bundles of cells hint at biological differences of autistic brains .... https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/bundles-cells-hint-biological-differences-autistic-brains
4 Functional & Physiological Brain Differences, Child Autism. https://www.appliedbehavioranalysisedu.org/4-functional-and-physiological-differences-in-the-brain-of-a-child-with-autism/
Study Provides Evidence That Autism Affects Functioning of Entire Brain .... https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/study-provides-evidence-autism-affects-functioning-entire-brain
Autism and the Brain: What Does the Research Say?. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-translation/201803/autism-and-the-brain-what-does-the-research-say
The Autistic Brain
Are Autistic People Better at Logical Thinking?
Reasoning on the Autism Spectrum: A Dual Process Theory Account
Emotional decision-making in autism spectrum disorder: the roles of interoception and alexithymia